Don’t Refer to Lagos as No Man’s Land Again, Say Osoba, Akiolu

  •   Creation of states damaged Nigeria, says Okunnu

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and others wednesday faulted claims by non-Yoruba ethnic groups that Lagos “is no man’s land.”

Also, former Federal Commissioner of Works, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, lamented that the creation of states after the administration of General Yakubu Gowon had created more problems than solved diverse challenges confronting Nigeria.

The leaders expressed their views at a public lecture organised to mark the 50th anniversary of Lagos State at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, noting that it was not only embarrassing, but also confrontational to claim that Lagos “is no man’s land.”

The lecture, with the titled: ‘Lagos: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,’ was attended by the state’s military administrators, Brig.-Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Air Comm. Ebitu Ukiwe and the state’s first civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande.

Other speakers, who faulted the claim that Lagos is no man’s land, included first Town Clark of Lagos City Council, Sen. Habib Fasinro; former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olusola Oguntade, and Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Al-Hikmah University, Prof. Hakeem Danmole.

The speakers said the claim was not only misleading, but equally confrontational, noting that it abused the history of indigenous people of Lagos as the Aworis, Egbas, Binis, Ijeshas, Nupes, Brazilian returnees.

On this ground, specifically, Osoba said: “We need to understand that there were early settlers in Lagos. So, whenever some people say that Lagos is no man’s land, I laugh because I know that there were true land owners in Lagos.”

Akiolu provided some historical facts to buttress Osoba’s position, noting that Lagos should not be referred “to as no man’s land because our forefathers were the founding fathers of the state.”

The monarch explained that his forefathers had been living in the territory of Lagos several years, even before the Europeans and others came to Lagos.

Danmole, who provided insight into the history of Lagos, said Lagos Island to the indigenous population is called Eko, whose origin was well known traditional, but controversial accounts.

Nevertheless, according to him, it is important to note that one version of the name relates to the advent of Aworis, while the other is connected to Benin adventures in Lagos.

Despite this controversy, Danmole said, what is fairly certain is that the Awori settlement in Lagos was earlier than that of the Benin, which eventually subjugated the emergent settlement.

He said: “Written records insist that Olofin, the leader of the Awori at Iddo divided Lagos among his children. Although many versions exit with regards to the number of children of Olofin, these children established various settlements within the Island and beyond.”

Unlike the Awori, Danmole said the accounts of Benin’s relations with Lagos were fundamental to the evolution and eventual administration of the emergent settlement.

Also at the public lecture, Okunnu lamented that after 12 states created by the Gowon administration; successive military administration damaged the country built by their founding fathers with creation of additional states.

He said: “I wished that we have held on to the 12 states structure initially created by the Gowon administration. If the country held on to the structure, the ongoing demand for restructuring by some Nigerians would not have been necessary.”
Okunnu argued that the creation of additional states further brought ethnicity and religious differences that has become a huge problem for the country.

Previously, according to him, relationship in the country was cordial that everyone lives together without emphasising on religion or ethnicity. We celebrate together to the extent that we don’t clear distinction between us.

He, therefore, said the differences was heightened by the activities of Afenifere Renewal Group, Arewa Consultative Forum and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which hijacked them for their political interest rather than the reasons they were established.

When the groups had not been hijacked by politicians, Okunnu explained that Nigerians engage in politics without adding religious or ethnic coloration.

He lamented that politicians now use the groups “to gain power and other things that the group should not have engaged in. The groups must be confined to the cultural areas which they were created for and desist from delving into politics.”
In his address, Ambode said Lagos had since effectively transited from an administrative entity “to become the melting point of cultures and the socio-political and economic jurisdiction of global significance, rated today, as the fifth largest economy in Africa.

“The gathering of today goes beyond the periphery. This is because today offers us all, an opportunity to have introspection into the past, engage in an objective appraisal of the present and, a realistic prognosis of the future of another 50 years.

“This is why the assemblage of today, replete with our knowledgeable royal fathers, elder statesmen, jurists of distinction and Lagos indigenes of repute who are in their own class repositories of the great history of our dear state.”